Petition circulated to hold electors-set annual meeting

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

The East Troy Town Board is looking at constructing a new 17,000 square-foot, $4 million to $4.5 million town hall, but Town Chairman Joe Klarkowski wants the public to know the project is still in the planning stages and the town wants a lot of public feedback on the plans.

“Right now we’re gathering detailed information on the costs – hard and soft costs – so we can give the public as much information as possible, which will give us good feedback on the project,” Klarkowski said.

With rumors about what the town is doing or not doing and people questioning the process, Klarkowski said he was frustrated at the misinformation, to the point he wrote a letter to the editor.

Klarkowski said he’s received complaints (the newspaper has as well) from residents who are upset that the project seems to be getting pushed ahead without public input.

“We are absolutely looking for public input,” Klarkowski said. “It would be stupid to not want everyone involved. If we’re going to build a new building, we need people to get involved. I get frustrated when people say we’re hiding something because we’ve been talking about this for more than a year and it’s been on the meeting agendas. People know that in addition to attending those meetings, they can write letters, send emails … there’s lots of ways to get information to the board.”

The Town Board commissioned a needs analysis last year because the current Town Hall doesn’t meet the needs of the town or the Police Department and the cost of making the necessary repairs and upgrades was getting prohibitive, Klarkowski said.

“This has been briefly discussed for many years, the building used to be a school and wasn’t meant to be a town hall,” he said. “Many of the mechanicals are showing severe wear and tear, the building isn’t ADA compliant, and while there’s a way to make it complaint, it’s not cost effective.”

Klarkowski added that the electrical and plumbing systems and the roof are also problematic.

“When you start to add all this up, it’s a lot of money,” he said.

Klarkowski said the goal is to build a town hall that will last 40 to 50 years and they have been working with an architect for almost a year to come up with a plan.

“What we’re going for is a plan that’s pretty close to the final project with real numbers so the public can weigh in on the project with all the information the need. There’s nothing worse than going for something like this and saying it’s going to cost $3 million but then things change, soft costs aren’t calculated and now it’s $4 million. No one wants that.”

The estimated cost of a new town hall is $4 million to $4.5 million, which the town would fund with a 20-year loan. Klarkowski said the cost to taxpayers would be about $78 on a $200,000 house, annually over that 20 years.

The proposed one-story building is 17,400 square feet and will include about 10,000 square feet for administration and about 7,000 for the Police Department. The building will not contain a jail.

The town hall needs assessment and preliminary architect plans for the project can be found on the township’s website at www.townofeasttroy.com.

Project on hold

Klarkowski said it’s important for people to know that the town isn’t trying to “pull something over on them” and that the board is not rushing into things.

“With Covid and all that’s going on, the project is really on hold until we know more. We want to get the information out to the public and we want to have conversations with residents about their thoughts and concerns during this time, but we’re not rushing full-steam ahead with this. There’s too much we don’t know about the future.”

Klarkowski said he fully understood people’s reluctance to pay additional taxes for things, especially now, and said he was disheartened when the East Troy School District’s referendum failed in last month’s election because he felt that people didn’t really understand how dire the district’s financial issues were.

“And it’s not their fault,” he said. “They’re still being penalized for being a frugal district nearly 30 years ago. What does this say about the community’s willingness to support schools and the local government? I don’t know.”

So, while the board is moving forward with the planning of a new town hall, Klarkowski said the COVID-19 situation has slowed everything down.

“We stated at our meeting yesterday we’re pushing this project indefinitely because of this situation,” he said. “The board said all along we’re not going ahead without as much public input as possible and we can’t do that right now safely.”

Open house

The township is having an open house from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 11, at Town Hall, for the public to come, review the plans, ask questions and have discussions with the board members and town staff.

“Social distancing will be required,” Klarkowski said. “And we’re recommending everyone wear a mask. We’ll have the architect there as well as exhibits so questions can be asked and everyone can see what we’re looking at.”

Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, the town’s annual meeting, which is usually the third week in April was postponed to May 19. However, because the meeting was not properly noticed it was again postponed to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 14.

Petition circulated

Meanwhile, a group of concerned residents are circulating a petition to set an annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at Town Hall, N9330 Stewart School Road, East Troy, or another appropriate place if more room is needed.

The petition reads:

WE, Electors of the Town of East Troy, hereby Submit this written request that a Special Town Meeting of the Town of East Troy per WI State Statute 60.12(1)(b) and posted by Town Clerk under 60.12(3) be held on June 18, 2020, 6:30 p.m., at Town Hall located at N9330 Stewart School Road, East Troy, WI 53120‐0872 or other place deemed appropriate by the Town Board for the following Purposes:
1. Action to adopt a resolution to Rescind any previous town electorate approval granted under Wi State Statute 60.10(2)(f) Directives or grants of authority to Town Board to construct Town Buildings.
2. Action to adopt a resolution to grant authority under WI State Statute 60.12(2)(f) Directives or Grants Authority to Town Board to construct Town Buildings.
3. Action to adopt are solution under WI State Statute 60.12(2)(b)to Direct the TownBoard to increase the membership of the town board to 5 in towns with populations of 2,500 or more under s.60.21(2)
4. Action to rescind any previous town electorate salary increases to town supervisors as well as any authority granted to the Town Board under Wi State Statute 60.10(2)(k) if any actions have been taken at any previous special town meeting to authorize the foregoing actions and to establish the salaries for the town supervisors going forward.
In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, this written request is being submitted by the use of “single signed and circulated” written request to limit the amount of in-person/face-to-face contact that normally occurs during the circulation of a written request. 

According to organizers of the petition, 210 signatures are needed to force the township to have the elector-requested annual meeting.

 

 
 

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